Posts Tagged Dragon Age II

The Nitpixels Podcast Episode 3: I really want to do her

The third episode of the Nitpixels Podcast is now available for download with hosts Mathew McCurley, Matthew Rossi and Alex Ziebart. Michael Sacco was out of commission this week, likely a conspiracy to prevent Mike and Alex from being on the air at the same time.

This week, the Nitpixels crew discusses…

Be warned that toward the end of the podcast, there are Dragon Age II spoilers. However, the hosts give clear cues as to when these are incoming, so a careful listener can very likely avoid them all.

Do you have a question you would like to ask the Nitpixels crew? Have comments about the podcast? Email us at and we’ll answer it on the next edition of the Nitpixels Podcast if it strikes our fancy. You can also tweet any of us your questions — you can find our Twitter handles on the right-hand side of this very page (unless you’re on our mobile site).

You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below, download it directly via the link below, or download and subscribe via iTunesNote: The iTunes store is going through a slow phase and is taking an extraordinarily long time to display new episodes on the podcast page. If you subscribe, it will download the episode for you, even though it does not display on the page.

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The story/game disconnect in CRPGs

Spoilers for several games, past and present, including Dragon Age II abound in this post.

Computer RPGs excel in many, many ways. They can present a unified visual, with voice acting, immediate character visuals, and fantastic locales all realized for your playing convenience. Think of how hard it would be for a game master to create the milleu of Mass Effect through his or her voice alone.  But one element of the tabletop RPG that has always been nigh impossible for CRPGs to present is the ability to make shit up on the fly. To give an example, imagine you have the same scenario in both an RPG and a tabletop dungeon crawl – a boss fight that requires the players to fall into a trap behind one of two doorways. If this trap is necessary to set up the scene, the easy thing to do is to set it up so that no matter which door the party opens, that’s the door with the trap.

The problem here is that in a CRPG, there are things like save games and replays, so the players will learn fairly quickly that the game cheated, and that either door presents you with the trap. In a pen and paper game, there’s no replay and even if the suspicious players go and check the other door, a GM can blithely lie to them and have there be no sign of a trap. Yes, in each case you were railroaded. But in case A, you can easily find out, because the game can’t cover its tracks.

CRPGs have to balance a very careful line, leveraging their assets to make you forget that in the end, the story is by necessity on rails. Even when a game presents you with options and choices that can determine the outcome, it can only present you with so many because the story has to end somewhere.  There’s only so much room on those game discs or in that file download for variation, much as if you were ultimately reading a choose your own adventure book or using a flowchart. The game’s goal, therefore, is to make you forget that. It does so with all of the bells and whistles at its command, ultimately, and by making use of as many ‘non-choice choices‘ as it can get away with.
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